Friday, July 31, 2009

To whom shall we go?

...On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life... You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

I don't think that people should only come to Christ when they have nowhere else to turn - he is far more mighty and holy than that. But at the same time, the saying, "when God is all you have, you realize that God is all you need" holds very true for many people. When we have other things to turn to, other idols, dreams and desires we'd rather pursue - or just don't want to face the hard teachings of Jesus - it's hard to recognize our need for God. His power and greatness can be watered down by these other things we put our hope in. Ultimately, where else are we going to go when these idols prove empty and helpless to us? He has the words of eternal life. He is love and goodness and grace when the flesh fails - why go elsewhere?

I was reminded of how true this is in Broken Hearts last night (and why we're called Broken Hearts!) I talked to 'Jake', who basically said these exact things. He has absolutely no where to go, he has no possessions but the clothes on his back, and absolutely nothing to lose if he leaves his current life behind.

I wrote about Jake 2 weeks ago, who was surrendering to Christ and wanting to get into rehab. Last week we saw him back out in Hollywood, high and going clubbing and acting like nothing had happened the previous week. And sadly, this happens ALL the time. We think someone's changing, but they're just not ready, or something keeps dragging them down. I was so discouraged by him and others that evening, it didn't even seem worth another blog post.

Last night we saw him again. My first thoughts were that it would be the same. That, high on meth, he wasn't ready; that we'd talk about serious things, but he wouldn't change. But as we got to talking, he explained how his boyfriend had stolen everything - all of his money and credit cards and he had nothing left. He was hopeless and planned to just find a retail job and figure something out for himself.

Half-heartedly I said, "well if you want to go to Set Free (a Christian rehab program we'd told him about) we can always take you there. It would be a place to stay, rehab, they'd provide all you need..."

"Sure," he replied, sounding defeated. "Why not. I'll do anything." I wasn't quite sure how serious was, but I let him know that when we got to the bible study I'd ask Antquan if he would be able to take Jake that night. (Set Free is in Cabazon, about 2 hours away).

For a while we hung out on the street corner, talking to several other young guys we see often. I told one of his friends that has been hanging out with us recently that we were going to take him to rehab, and he replied, "he's not gonna go. He says that all the time and never goes. I've tried to take him." I knew it was possible that he was right, but chose not to believe it at that moment. When we got to the bible study, I asked Antquan about driving him there, and he called Set Free as we got ready for bible study to let them know he wanted to bring someone. Apparently they were hesitant to take someone in so late at night, but agreed.

I went back to Jake and asked him if he was actually ready. If he really wanted to go if we were going to take him, ready to change. He said that he was, so we went over some of the rules, checked if he was on probation or parole or anything else that could hinder his acceptance to the program. Talked about how it's set up and what would be expected. Everything checked out, and he asked, "It's a Christian place, right? I need that support and discipleship." I gladly told him yes, they would disciple him and he'd be surrounded by Christians to walk with him.

After the study, we spent time talking with the group of guys who had come, as well as Jukka's friend (who we were introduced to like this: "This is 'Kathy'. She's a real girl.") She had quite the story as well - 16, homeless, pimped out when she arrived in Hollywood, and recently ended a pregnancy. (and yes, this stuff is happening all over our cities. Not just the 'bad' areas or overseas in notoriously sketchy and lawless places).

So around 1:45, Jake said good-bye to her, as well as us, and climbed into Antquan's car. After driving 'Kathy' to wherever she was staying that night, I headed home with deep joy in my heart. I prayed and praised God as I drove, seeing God bring Jake to such brokenness that he'd surrendered.

Today I got a text from Antquan that he'd checked Jake in at 3:40 a.m., and that in 2 weeks we'll be able to go visit him. For some reason that extra confirmation that he was actually there and it had worked out was all it took for me to break down and just praise God. I cried as I drove back to work on my lunch break, trying not to return looking like a wreck, but didn't even care. If people asked what was wrong, I would have a great story to tell them!

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